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Mom, You're Prettier than Lucy
by Bill Tope

Lucille Ball was our household icon. She
was pretty and funny and clever; she was
everywhere: on TV, in the movies, the
newspapers and so on.  We couldn't get
enough of her.
As a redhead myself I naturally gravitated
toward Lucy. In fact, I thought wistfully that
a marriage between Lucy and popular
comedian Red Skelton, another redhead,
would produce the ideal parents.  I was
eight years old.
So one night, when we were in the basement
watching television, Mom tossed me the
latest TV Guide, which featured on its
cover a photo of Lucille Ball. "She's pretty,
isn't she?" she asked me. i surveyed the
photo critically, then issued my opinion.
"Mom, you're prettier than Lucy," I said quite
honestly. She looked up from her crocheting,
startled.  "Me?" she squeaked, unbelieving.
"Sure," I reiterated determinedly, "you're lots
prettier than Lucy." I glanced at her,
wondering why she was so surprised. "Do you
really mean that?" she asked softly. I told her
I did.  I'd no idea I had rendered such a
profound compliment.
I guess it was a combination of things that made
me feel that way: a son's love, a positive, nurturing
role model, and she was, in fact, quite pretty. Mom
said nothing more, but looked back down at her
needlework, a little smile playing on her lips.